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    Here Are 17 Extremely Necessary Items You Can Thank Indigenous People For Inventing

    You'll be surprised how animal bladders were used.

    1. The kayak

    An Inuit kayaking
    Buyenlarge / Getty Images

    It is estimated that the Inuit people first invented the kayak thousands of years ago as a way to ensure that the boat wouldn't sink if it flipped upside down while fishing, hunting, or traveling. The Inuit people originally made kayaks out of animal bones and seal skin.

    2. Rubber

    A neon-colored rubber ball
    Glsolcam / Getty Images

    Rubber was first developed by the Native Americans — they would harvest natural latex from tree sap. Charles Goodyear then commercialized it in the 1830s. 

    3. Sunglasses

    A wooden pair of sunglasses
    Royal Geographical Society / Royal Geographical Society via Getty Images

    The Yupik people in Alaska first developed an early form of sunglasses in the 1890s, when they realized the glare from the sun on snow can cause eye damage. They fashioned sunglasses out of wood or bone and cut a tiny slit in the eye holes. 

    4. Harvesting corn

    An Indigenous girl grinds corn as a man stands to the side
    Duncan1890 / Getty Images

    Corn was first cultivated by Native Mexicans about 10,000 years ago, and then Native Americans taught their European colonizers how to grow and farm the grains. 

    5. Snow goggles

    An illustration of snow goggles
    Nsa Digital Archive / Getty Images/iStockphoto

    Much like the sunglasses, Alaskan natives began fashioning thicker forms of eyewear to protect themselves against the cold. The Inuit made these from animal bones, leather, antlers, or wood.

    6. Snow shoes

    An illustration of two Native Americans using snowshoes as they hunt bison
    Bauhaus1000 / Getty Images

    The snow shoe can be traced back to Central Asia, but it was the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples who fashioned snow shoes as we know them today.

    7. Chewing gum

    A closeup of the Sapodilla tree
    Fajrul Islam / Getty Images

    Mayans and Aztecs were some of the first people to slice the resin from the bark of the Sapodilla tree and chew on it. 

    8. Mouthwash

    A closeup of the goldthread plant in bloom
    Yves Dery / Getty Images/iStockphoto

    Along with inventing chewing gum, the Mayans and Aztecs also began drying the resin and using it as a breath freshener. They also used the goldthread plant as a form of actual mouthwash.

    9. Oral contraceptives

    Nahhan / Getty Images/iStockphoto

    While not as effective, Indigenous peoples had been eating herbs like dogbane and stoneseed as a form of contraceptive for centuries before Western culture caught on. 

    10. Hammocks

    A person lounging on a hammock as another adult and a child look on
    Stefano Bianchetti / Corbis via Getty Images

    Caribbean natives created the hammock as a way to cool off at night and avoid the insects that live on the surface of hot climates. The Mayans made hammocks from the fibers of Hamack trees interwoven together to form a sort of net. 

    11. Syringes

    A syringe on top of a bottle labeled COVID-19 Vaccine
    Andriy Onufriyenko / Getty Images

    Indigenous people in North America created syringes to inject medicines by hollowing out and sharpening bird bones and attaching them to small animal bladders.

    12. Pain Relievers

    A closeup of the trunk of a tree
    James O'neil / Getty Images

    We have Native Americans to thank for modern-day aspirin, after they figured out that eating certain tree bark acts as an anti-inflammatory medication. They also created topical ointments, using peppers and jimson weed to heal cuts and wounds. 

    13. Baby bottles

    A person bottle feeding a baby
    Taiyou Nomachi / Getty Images

    The Iroquois fashioned baby bottles out of greased bear gut and a bird quill.

    14. Cable suspension bridges

    Davidionut / Getty Images/iStockphoto

    In South America, the Inca figured out how to weave certain mountain grasses and other plants into thick rope that could be used to make bridges. 

    15. Raised-bed agriculture

    A lavender field
    Adam Smigielski / Getty Images

    To avoid swamps, runoff, and erosion, Natives in South and Central America first started piling their soil into a raised bed in order to grow their crops.

    16. Suppositories

    Lauren Barkume / Getty Images

    Small plugs were made using the moistening properties of dogwood trees, and then those plugs were inserted into the anus to dissolve.

    17. Bunk beds

    A bunk bed with clothes strewn on top
    Elliott Kaufman / Getty Images

    The Iroquois built bunk beds in their long, tall houses as a way to accommodate more living space. 

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